Species: Atelerix albiventris
HABITAT AND RANGE:
There are 8 species of hedgehog. They
live in the British Isles, Europe,
Russia, Korea, China, Asia Minor and
limestone boulders, along riverbanks, or
under roots of trees.
Hedgehogs have furry cream-colored
stomachs, chocolate-colored legs and
prickly spines on their backs and sides.
The spines have bands of different
colors on them. Most commonly the spine
gets darker as it approaches the tip,
while the actual tip is yellowish.
Hedgehogs have close to 8,000 spines
covering their bodies. These spines are
modified hairs. The area of the body
that is covered by spines also has a
large muscular sheath just under the
skin. When they are frightened, they
contract the sheath and it encloses
their entire body in spines and raises
the spines for defense. They have
rounded bodies, which end in furry,
pointed tan faces that extend 7-10
inches. They have an excellent sense of
smell and are continuously sniffing
their surroundings. A typical adult
weighs between 10 and 16 oz.
Hedgehogs are most active at dusk. Their
gait is usually a slow, rolling walk,
but they can run, swim and climb with
agility if necessary. Their spines
protect them from enemies and also
cushion them when they fall or
purposefully drop from a height. During
the day, hedgehogs rest underneath
brushpiles or in leaf nests in rock
crevices or burrows. Hedgehogs hibernate
during the winter.
The hedgehog is a voracious insectivore,
but also eats mollusks (snails and
slugs), small rodents and some snakes.
They have a natural immunity to snake
venom and have been observed liking
their spines with thick saliva after
eating a snake. It is thought that the
saliva at this point may contain small
amounts of venom and the hedgehog could
be coating their spines with this as a
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:
Gestation is 5 weeks, with the young
being born in the spring, after
hibernation. Hedgehogs bear 2 to 8
young. The offspring open their eyes 14
to 18 days after birth. The spines on
the newborns are soft and rubbery for
about 20 days, at which point they are
almost fully hardened. Hedgehogs reach
sexual maturity at one year.
STATUS IN WILD:
Due to its extensive range and large
wild population, this species is stable
in the wild.